Optical Connections Magazine Spring 2022


TOP CONFERENCE A UK FIRST DELEGATES HAIL NEW EVENT AS ‘MUCH NEEDED’ Organised in conjunction with Optical Connections, the first Telecoms Optics and Photonics (TOP) conference, which took place in London’s Bishopsgate venue on 14th - 15th February, brought together commercial, technical and academic players in the three title industries to discuss the latest technological developments and the challenges in the future. Sponsored by Passcomm, Socionext and the European Photonics Industry Consortium (EPIC), and held in conjunction with Optical Connections magazine, the event was hailed by participants as being ‘much needed’ at a time when the photonics industry is struggling for wider recognition of its role in taking telecommunications into the optical future. Peter Dykes looks at some of the highlights.

OPTICAL TELECOMS The conference opened with a presentation by Andrew Lord , senior manager of Optical Research at BT, who pinpointed key areas for research focus in order for the industry to maintain the extraordinary historical success of optical networks.. He explained how optical networks have developed over the past twenty years to fill the fibre C-band with optical channels of higher spectral efficiency. He said that given the C band is full and spectral efficiency is approaching the Shannon limit, it was important to explore the impact on future networks. He also looked at other potential bottlenecks including the increasingly severe limitations on power and accommodation as well as the slowing down of Moore’s Law for electronic chips. He also touched briefly on developments in security in the optical layer, with coverage of the rapidly growing quantum trend, a topic which several other speakers looked at in greater depth on day two of the conference. 5G DEMANDS Still on the topic of telecoms, Andrew Butler , director, Systems Consulting at ADVA, spoke about how the ever-increasing bandwidth consumption is forcing network operators to make continuous upgrades to their access infrastructure to increase network capacity. He explained that 5G increases the importance of fibre optical

links because microwave does not scale enough, meaning more mobile networks are relying on optical fibre for connectivity to the radio unit. He highlighted some of the challenges for next generation mobile connectivity and the innovative transport solutions for transmission and monitoring. In particular, operational aspects such as ease of provisioning and root-cause- analysis and how capacity can be maximized without sacrificing operational simplicity. KEEPING IT SIMPLE Redesigning and simplifying network architecture was also addressed by Jon Baldry , director of Metro Marketing at Infinera, who explained how one recent innovation in coherent optical networking, namely Infinera’s XR Optics technology, solves some of optical networks’ long- lasting metro aggregation challenges. The point-to-multipoint pluggable coherent optical transmission technology, he said, enables game-changing benefits with up to a 70% reduction in total cost of ownership, enhanced scalability and more efficient utilization of network infrastructure. OPTICAL SWITCHING These themes were also picked up by Fotini Karinou , senior researcher at Microsoft Research in the context of data centres. She discussed the need for low

latency and high bandwidth networks that are ultra-power efficient, driven by the trend towards rapidly increasing intra-data centre traffic due to AI and disaggregation driven workloads. She told delegates that Microsoft’s Project Sirius had been set up to address the expected doubling of cloud network traffic every two years with increasingly stringent latency requirements, which is at odds with the likelihood that Moore’s law limits may soon be reached. She added that switching in the post-Moore’s era would mean concentrating on switching power ahead of transceiver power, given that optical switching is the better option because it does not depend on CMOS. To this end, Project Sirius is, among other things, developing nanosecond optical switching at the data centre scale using an Arrayed Wavelength Grating Router (AWGR), a passive optical switch which does not use transistors. Other telecoms and data presentations covered a wide range of topics including optical networks for disaggregated data centres and distributed deep learning; next generation PON technologies; AI-enabled fibre-optic access networks for smart cities; using ADC/DAC in high speed OTNs and improving mobile access across London’s underground metro system.



| ISSUE 28 | Q1 2022

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